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Equipping the Overland Vehicle Vehicle accessories - Making your home away from home comfortable, safe and reliable.
Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, At the foot of the Bear Glaciers, eternal ice, British Columbia, Canada

Adventure is what you make it

Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, at the foot of the Bear Glaciers, British Columbia, Canada.



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  #1  
Old 9 Jun 2019
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The franglais-riders
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Chemical toilets and long term travel

Hi
We just got our van converted. We are moving from motorbikes to 4 wheels for a bit. So total newbies on campervans.

Our van has a chemical toilet, it needs a blue chemical stuff in the waste disposal. Apparently to be changed every 5 days!

We plan to get to Eastern Europe, turkey, Azerbaijan etc... for 4 to 6 months trip, to test the van.

We will use the toilets only if we have to. So long term, off the grid, how do you deal with your chemical toilet? Do you pack lots of the chemical product and keep changing it every 5 day? Not use any chemical ?

I am just puzzled at the practically of using chemical product on long term travel!
Any advice welcome!
Thanks,
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  #2  
Old 9 Jun 2019
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Maria, I'm thinking similarly about doing a van conversion--not now, but within 5 years or so as I get older and accumulate more physical limitations.

During previous trips by van I carried no toilet at all--there were bushes, forests, and various forms of toilets in restaurants, lodgings, stores, rest stops, tourist information offices, etc. Those were shorter trips and largely within North America. It gets old, and at times it feels like the whole trip is organized around finding toilet facilities--not the feeling I'm looking for.

I've also used the standard river rafting system--basically, a five-gallon plastic bucket with a liner and a seat. This requires someplace to deposit the liner bags, hopefully responsibly, as necessary. Some people use chemicals with them, some don't. They have the advantage of allowing storage of filled liner bags until you find a place to deposit them (ick), but I'm not too sure about the ecological consequences of leaving behind a trail of plastic bags full of poop.

And I've used little two part camping toilets while living outdoors for long (5 months) periods back in the day--the equivalent of what I presume you're describing. I always ended up with an over-full, un-emptied, impossible-to-deal-with mess at some point--not only is the emptying kind've gross and prone to accidents (use your imagination), but sometimes there really just isn't any place appropriate to deposit five or ten gallons of concentrated poop, whether chemically-laced or not. It's also a bit awkward to walk around with the full bottom section--40-80 lbs/65-130 kg--even when you've found a place to empty it out. I usually ended up going back to digging dispersed cat holes in the woods--the most ecological solution, as far as I know.

Currently I'm thinking along the lines of composting toilets designed for boats and vans. There are a lot of examples, but the first which came up on a search was this one: https://natureshead.net/road/ I've heard some good reports, but haven't actually seen or used one. If they work, even partially, they seem like the best of the available solutions.

I've never traveled with an actual blackwater collection system as you'd have in a large RV or overland truck. If that's what you're looking at I'm afraid the above will be of little use unless you decide to replace it with a composter.

Hope that's somewhat helpful.

Mark
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Old 10 Jun 2019
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my partner lives on a narrowboat, he has a %hit box camper chemical loo. He does not add blu to it all that often, and it only occasionally smells.

Most people on the narrowboat forums use biological clothes washing liquid as an alternative to the more expensive chemical blu, if you are worried about the expense and carting something extra around. Also being on the road there are plenty of other opportunities for toilet stops, just good to have if the weather is foul, or big scary animals outside.
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Old 11 Jun 2019
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The chemical is usually formadehyde to preserve the contents of the toilet!
long term the best solution is to fit a SOG type fan to the toilet which will evacuate smells and help to break down the contents of the cassette.
https://www.soguk.co.uk/what-is-a-sog/
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Old 11 Jun 2019
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Thanks for the answers.

Always been on motorbike before and I used to use the proverbial bush or public WC on the road.

A lot of things to figure out with a van.
I like the idea of using fabric softener as it can be found everywhere in the world.

We will check out the vans at the HU meeting in Wales this weekend to pick up ideas too. First outing on our van so big experiment!

anyone coming I will be doing a couple of presentations about Russia/central Asia and Africa if interested.... those trips were on bikes though. Adjusting to 4 wheels might be tricky!

Cheers,
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Old 24 Jun 2019
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After a while we used the porta potti, without any chemicals, no problem at all. As far as possible we used a bucket for the pee. That was easy to dispose of and dramatically reduced the smell.
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Old 25 Jun 2019
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Smile New Loo

Hi Maria

Composting toilet is the way to go, we spent 5 months in our van with an Air head from Woo Woo in London. The solids are separated from the liquid so no smell, the solid which is pretty clean compost only needs emptying after 4-5 months continous use. The liquid lasts 3-4 days depending on how much you drink!

They are not cheap, but worth it on environmental grounds and the fact there are no smelly chemicals. A cheaper option is Separatt, also from WooWoo you just buy the separating seat and add your own solid container, but there is no built in liquid container, 'tho that could easily be fitted under the van.

If you are around Bristol you are welcome to come and have a go on a working one, or call me on zero seven eight one one 871859.

Cheers

Bruce
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Old 20 Aug 2019
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We travelled almost 3 years with a portapotti. Worked great. When we found blue chemical, we would stock up to 3 bottles. We used tiny amounts, and only was needed in warmer climates. if we had to use the potti for solids, we went ahead and did all liquids in there as well. After a drive, it makes the thing way easier to empty. Nuff said on that.

The blue did'nt help with breaking down the solids, just the smell. There is a better way called a sog.

https://www.soguk.co.uk/

We never had one, but we talked with other owners. It will be in our next one.

Merv.
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  #9  
Old 25 Aug 2019
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Sog

We have used a "sog" for the last 10 years with no chemicals
Making it easier to find an empying place and no nasty smells.
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Old 19 Dec 2019
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Clothes washing liquid with enzymes on the ingredients is what you want if blue is unavailable or just a bit too nasty.
People do make their own composting loo, we bought a Separitt though.

Auction sites often have urine diverters, then you need a bucket at the rear and a bottle at the front. Some sort of bio mass in the bucket to allow air circulation under and around the "deposit" to allow the moisture to evaporate. A Separitt does not have a stirring handle like the Airhead does. It does have a computer fan extracting air from the container the bucket is housed in out of the outhouse/vehicle. The company we bought ours from was near Birmingham and sometimes got cocoa shells from the small chocolate company there, so a lovely smell! Fine sawdust isn't good, moss and bracken better. Wood shavings might be ok. The result when it's full isn't compost though, it's just heading in that direction.
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Old 1 Jan 2020
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Blue is just about extinct now as you can get green which is usable for disposal into bio type systems (eg septic tanks etc) , or as prev post use a bio type wash liquid , have used in holding tank set ups (American RV) as well as the Euro cassette type Thetford etc. Sog sorts smell if it becomes a problem which isnt always the case.
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